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littlelamb Apr 30th, 2013 02:54 PM

Southern Utah and Grand Canyon Trip Help
My husband and I are planning a trip to Southern Utah and GC in Sept. of this year. We are arriving and departing from LV. Our flight arrives at 5:20pm and then we have to rent vehicle and get moving. We have to depart 8 days later at 11am. Here is a list of places we want to visit. I know it is long for the amount of time we have, but this was our only option and we probably will not get this opportunity again. We are in our early 50's and enjoy driving and seeing beautiful scenery. We probably won't have a lot of time for long tours or long hikes and we like neat places to eat. Please help us decide a route and maybe suggest lodging and sights along our route. Thanks in advance. Here is the list:

Hoover Dam
Grand Canyon(South Rim)
Page( short float trip/ Glen Canyon)
Monument Valley
Castle Reef/Torrey( Goblin Valley)

emalloy Apr 30th, 2013 05:34 PM

You can do a nice loop in either direction and the first thing I would do is try to find lodging in the parks, especially Grand Canyon. That would be for either the second night or the next to the last night.

If you are coming from the east coast then I would probably want to head towards Hoover Dam first and I think there is a hotel/casino very near it right on the road that leads to it spend the night do the dam tour then head for Grand Canyon.

Hike and look a bit, see sunset, spend the night in GC, see sunrise, hike a bit, then head for Monument Valley.

There is a washout on 89, and I'm not sure if it is before or after Tuba City, but I think it is after, if so you can take 160 to Kayenta then 163 to MV. If you can't get lodging in MV, then Kayenta has places to stay.

I would then head for Page, back on 160 to 98 to Page. You could do Antelope Canyon and the float trip from there. If you don't want to spend a second night in Page you could take 89 to Kayenta before heading to Bryce

I would go to Bryce for a night or two and Zion for a couple of nights. Then back to Vegas. I Know I left out Capitol Reef and Goblin Valley, but you will be back again for them.

I would suggest you try to drive during daylight hours if possible for three reasons. First, the scenery along the way is beautiful, especially in Utah. Second, a lot of the area has open range, so you don't just have to worry about antelope and deer, there are cattle and horses that are free to cross the road unexpectedly. Third if you did come from the east, your body clock tells you it is later than the clock in the car.

Never pass a gas station when the tank is below half. Get water, snacks, etc. to have in the car.

Have a wonderful trip.

spirobulldog Apr 30th, 2013 05:52 PM

Goblin Valley--End of Nowhere. Bring Food and Drinks and as emalloy says for sure have gas here

Capitol Reef-- Have pie for Breakfast at The Gifford House located in the park. Buy your pie and eat it right next door in the picnic area under the big trees. You almost guaranteed to be dining with deer(they are almost always there).

Hell's Backbone Grill is good place to eat between Capitol Reef and Bryce. Kiva Koffeehouse is also a good place for a snack.

In Bryce-I would just eat at the lodge and perhaps a meal at Rubys

In Zion--For sure eat at the lodge on meal and have lunch under the big tree out front one meal too(people every day do this and its fun). Get your lunch from the deli counter area.
Then in Springdale(just at the park entrance) eat at Whiptail Grill. Specifically, have the spaghetti squash enchiladas.

Grand Canyon--Have a meal at El Tovar.

If you don't want to hike down into the Canyon at Bryce, then take the Horse ride there--Very Good.

spirobulldog Apr 30th, 2013 05:53 PM

You can get your picnic supplies at Austin's Chuckwagon in Torrey for your Goblin Valley Day

mlgb Apr 30th, 2013 10:45 PM

Las Vegas to Springdale (UTAH) is about 2.5 to 3 hours, so that would be a good first destination. Allow at least two nights there. If you can't find lodging in the park, you have to use the shuttle. It takes a long time to get on and off at all the stops.

The drive out the east end on 89 is beautiful. I think it's worth leaving mid day, then you can get to Bryce for sunset if you have lodging there. You really only need one half day after that at Bryce if you're not hiking down and back up (it's steep).

Capitol Reef (not Castle Reef) is beautiful in the fall. Torrey is a good spot to stay. There are some good driving tours and the Fruta village.

Two nights in Moab at least.

When you go from Moab to Monument Valley try to get Hovenweep N.M. in there. It's beautiful in the late afternoon sun.

You'll want to book well ahead for Monument Valley.(1 night is really all you need). The park is best seen as early as possible by your own vehicle if possible, before the jeep tours start to stir up dust.

Check in to the washout situation. It will add an hour extra time from Page to GC South. My favorite lodging is the Bright Angel historic cabins with private bath. I don't get the view ones, they are less private. Keep checking back if they are all booked.

You can see L. Mead on the way back to Vegas.

littlelamb May 1st, 2013 11:20 AM

Thanks so far for all the suggestions.
I might be able to get another flight that would have us arriving in LV at around noon. Is it doable after renting car to do a short trip to Hoover Dam and then drive to GC south rim that same day? I have found availability inside park for that night only.

There was no availability in Zion for that night, so I thought we might head the other direction from LV.

ElendilPickle May 1st, 2013 12:00 PM

Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon is certainly doable, unless you are super jetlagged. Where are you flying from?

Lee Ann

mlgb May 1st, 2013 12:33 PM

You can stay in Springdale rather than inside Zion park. If you get there by 3 or 4 you'll have time to take the shuttle into the park, it should be running until about an hour after daylight.

I think I'd still want to head to Utah first, since it will take you 6 hours to get to GC. Keep trying every day, I'm sure rooms will pop up for the dates you want. Maswik isn't too far to the rim.

littlelamb May 1st, 2013 01:56 PM

We are flying from Atlanta, GA.

What are some good lodging options really close to Zion park entrance and also for Bryce and Torrey. That time of year would we need to go ahead and make all reservations if we are not staying inside parks?

Question about Monument Valley.....Could we do a day trip from Page or would we need to stay a night in MV?

jayne1973 May 1st, 2013 02:02 PM

Our best meal in the Bryce area was at Foster's Family Steakhouse, which is just outside the park on Hwy 12 in Panquitch. Looks funky but it was excellent. I think I had some trout that was out of this world! Rubys and the park dining room were kind of disappointing.

spirobulldog May 1st, 2013 02:03 PM

Zion-Stay at Zion Lodge(in the park)
Bryce-Stay at Bryce Lodge(in the park)
Torrey-Austin's Chuckwagon
If you are going to MV, you need to do a trip with an Indian Guide(in my opinion)-I think you will most likely want to spend the night there.

For me, I would pick Goblin Valley over Monument Valley. I haven't been to Page, so can't comment on that.
If you do go to Goblin Valley, be sure and hike Little Wildhorse Canyon(not to be confused with Wildhorse Canyon-you won't Little Wildhorse). This is considered to be probably the best non-technical slot canyon
Todd ranks it very high and he seldom ranks anything high.

mlgb May 1st, 2013 03:25 PM

I would try to spend the night at Monument Valley so that you can go out early in the morning.

I would not go on one of those open jeep tours. If there is another option with a closed vehicle, maybe. I just took my own car and it was nice to be there without anyone else.

I would try to reserve ahead as long as it's nonrefundable. September has pretty nice weather so it's popular.

spirobulldog May 1st, 2013 04:50 PM

You will not see 1/5 of the park going in your own vehicle. I stongly disagree with mlgb.

WhereAreWe May 1st, 2013 06:41 PM

September is a long way out, there is no reason you shouldn't be able to find lodging for your dates unless you don't try. People cancel all the time, just keep calling and you will get the dates you want.

Make an itinerary that makes sense, not one based on current lodging availability for 4 months away.

Re: Zion: "If you can't find lodging in the park, you have to use the shuttle. It takes a long time to get on and off at all the stops."

You have to take the shuttle no matter what. If you are staying in park at the Lodge, you can drive only as far as the Lodge. Guests are allowed to drive up canyon to the Lodge with no stopping along the way, then park and use the shuttle.

mlgb May 1st, 2013 08:01 PM

A few of my Monument Valley photos are here, you can get a feel for what you can see on your own and decide.

Didn't know that about the Zion guests. There seems even less reason to stay in the park in that case.

littlelamb May 2nd, 2013 08:20 AM

Thanks, pictures are great. What kind of vehicle did you have? We are going to try and rent vehicle with 4wd.

We will try and plan our route and just stay positive about lodging availability.

Any more suggestion on a good route for our trip? The drive from LV to GC south rim seems so long. We may have to leave Hoover Dam off the list, although being this close I hate to do that.

Starting off in Zion seems much closer.

jayne1973 May 2nd, 2013 09:53 AM

If it were my vacation, I would enjoy Vegas the first night, see Hoover Dam the next day since it so close, and head out in my chosen direction from there.

GrammaKel May 2nd, 2013 10:26 AM

My personal feeling? Do Zion's first. Makes more sense than the loonnng drive to Grand Canyon the first day. More scenic drive too. Will get you excited for your trip.
I agree with leaving Capitol Reef and Goblin Valley for another trip. As much as I love Capitol Reef, you see much similar scenery with Zion's NP, and on the way to Bryce. Goblin Valley is cool, but Bryce is better, IMHO.

WhereAreWe May 2nd, 2013 10:48 AM

I would go to the Grand Canyon first. You go right by Hoover Dam so there's no need to skip it. The only question is if you want to do a tour or just stop and take pics.

The drive to GC is long and not scenic. I would rather get that out of the way immediately and know that its over. The drive isn't so bad when you have the excitement of the whole trip in front of you. But it sucks when you're almost done with vacation. Some people like to get the unpleasant stuff out of the way and just enjoy the rest of their time.

mlgb May 2nd, 2013 11:05 AM

littlelamb, I have a regular passenger car with AWD and a 5 speed manual transmission(Subaru Impreza). High clearance wasn't necessary. I also drove the same car down the Burr Trail into Capitol Reef. Of course I made certain that it had not rained in a while before doing so (they had quite a bad drought going on at the time, actually).

The time of day is very confusing in this area, if you want to beat the jeep tours and get in on the "golden hour" be sure you know what the time is inside the Tribal Park vs. just outside at the hotel!

Here is the brochure

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